Planned Community Two economic impact study presented; commercial focus added | SierraSun.com
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Planned Community Two economic impact study presented; commercial focus added

ALEX FREEMON, Sierra Sun

A panel of town council members and other Truckee administrative authorities met July 11 for a final discussion on the economic impact of Planned Community-2 (PC-2), the proposed residential, golf and commercial community.

The Hopkins family, developer of the proposed project, has offered several modifications to the original plan, including added commercial emphasis, and a new time frame spanning several years.

At least 13 town officials and other functionaries in the audience met to hear the final economic proposal on PC-2 presented by Steve Wahlstrom, a consultant who prepared the document..

PC-2, or Boca Sierra Estates, is intended to be a 600-home development with a golf course, retail area and a supermarket slated to be built on a 789-acre area near the junction of Interstate 80 and Highway 267 in the Boca area.

Tuesday night’s meeting was a follow-up to an initial discussion in November, where members of the public questioned the project’s potential environmental and economic impact.

Wahlstrom’s presentation this week addressed the economic criticism of the plan by proposing to develop the site in several phases over seven years.

He explained that the gradual execution of the plan would allow the town to see the impact at various stages and determine if it was proper to continue.

The core of Wahlstrom’s explanation was that PC-2 would emphasize new retail space but not have an adverse affect on existing local merchants because he expects Truckee to grow at a pace that demands new business.

To the objection raised last November that the proposed 40,000 square-foot supermarket would threaten existing supermarkets, he said that those businesses would not only survive but would continue to be profitable.

Wahlstrom also said that he expected the Truckee area to bring in $20 million of new spending in the area over the next several years, regardless of whether PC-2 was built.

He calculated that there has been an average of 265 homes built in the past five years and that PC-2’s proposed 329 homes would only be a portion of the 2,000 homes that he believes would be built over the next seven years in Truckee.

Wahlstrom also argued that “the (economic) demand is being created by new homes being built” and said that the commercial aspect of PC-2 which would now include retail and office space totaling 175,000 square feet.

The addition of office space to the plan is another change since last November that Wahlstrom said will help alleviate some of the economic demand. Furthermore, Wahlstrom said that the new commercial and residential area would help keep residents’ spending focused in Truckee, rather than Reno.

In brief, the revised project calls for a golf course and some housing to be built by 2003; a resort and condominiums with 27,000 square-feet of retail and 18,000 square-feet of office space by 2004; 154 more single-family homes and the supermarket by 2007; additional housing, 24,000 square-feet of retail and 18,000 square-feet of office space by 2008; and a final 6,000 square-feet of retail and 4,000 square-feet office by 2010.

Stefanie Olivieri of the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation challenged Wahlstrom’s estimates of the minimum income that local merchants need to sustain their businesses.

Wahlstrom said that merchants need to earn $125 per square foot to stay in business, but Olivieri argued that the figure was closer to $220. She also questioned Wahlstrom on what the impact on Truckee would be if the project did not succeed.

Wahlstrom agreed that failure would have an economic impact on the town but was unable to offer details.

Councilman Josh Susman emphasized that the parties involved should look more closely at communal impact and ability of existing businesses to absorb the economic impact.

He suggested that the economic impact on the town be judged using other measures than dollars-per-square-foot.

Town Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook concluded the meeting saying that the next step was to discuss the environmental impact report, which is presently being reviewed.


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